Bethan Gray has an extraordinary background: born to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, her maternal family descends from a nomadic Rajasthani clan that migrated across Arabia and Persia over centuries. Inspired by her heritage, and fuelled by a deep-seated curiosity about global art and culture, Bethan has travelled to India, Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America.
Collaboration is at the heart of Bethan Gray’s creative practice. She has spent two decades developing close relationships with master craftspeople all over the world, and works within equal partnerships based on mutual trust and respect to bring contemporary design and technology together with traditional craft, resulting in furniture and home accessories that give endangered skills new relevance in commercial markets.
The Exploring Eden collection, in collaboration with Nature Squared, comprises ten key pieces including furniture such as armchairs, tables and shelving, perfectly complemented by accessories such as paper weights, bookends and bell jars – each one the outcome of Bethan’s explorations into the possibilities of these exciting materials.
Exploration is at the heart of everything Nature Squared and I do. The Exploring Eden collection of furniture and accessories is our first expression of our shared passion for discovery, experimentation and pushing the limits of natural materials. Our journey has only just begun…
Scallops are widely eaten as a delicacy and their beautiful shells are usually discarded. They come in a wide variety of naturally stunning colours from acid yellow through to inky purple, and the subtle pink that Bethan selected for the Scallop Shell Desk. They are carefully trimmed to show their natural striated texture and then inlaid by hand.
Nature Squared buys shells from fishermen on the island of Negros, in the Philippines, where extensive conservation efforts are being made, especially in the recovery of damaged plastic fishing nets that choke local waters. Their responsible sourcing contributes to these efforts.
The stunning surfaces of the Capiz Shell Shelves are made from a thin, almost translucent shell, found in the Indo-Pacific ocean and known locally as ‘windowpane oyster’. The widely eaten shellfish are harvested by fishermen throughout the Philippines.
Nature Squared buys the discarded shells, which were once used as an alternative to glass, providing an additional source of revenue for the fishermen from the island of Negros, supporting ongoing conservation efforts in the community.
The goose feathers used in the Cylinder Stool are a by-product of farming and food industries. Goose down is widely known for its use in clothing and bedding, but the quills are less readily sold and therefore often discarded.
Each feather is individually hand-tinted black from the base, graduating through to the natural white of the feather’s tip. They are matched for size and symmetry, inlaid by hand and sealed with a layer of clear resin.
Abalone is eaten as a delicacy throughout East Asia and widely fished in Samar, Philippines, which was badly hit by super typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Nature Squared is contributing to the re-building of devastated local fishing communities.
Whilst wild populations of abalone are threatened in many parts of the world, this smaller variety is plentiful. Once the meat is harvested and sold to local restaurants, Nature Squared buys the shells, giving the discarded waste monetary value, which can be reinvested into sustainable fishing practices.